◎ Our Plan
The field of Global Environmental Studies is currently at a major turning point. In the international arena, the International Council for Science (ICSU) is preparing a new research initiative called “Future Earth” (hereinafter “FE”), working in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations University (UNU), International Social Science Council (ISSC), and the Belmont Forum. The goal of FE is to amass the knowledge required for shaping a sustainable future by fusing observational research on elements such as the atmosphere, oceans, land, and the Earth’s crust, which to date has been conducted chiefly in the field of natural science, with research on politics, economics, culture, and other aspects of human society, which traditionally come under the humanities and social science fields. In Japan, the Science Council of Japan (SCJ) and other organizations are seeking ways to form a research hub and set a research agenda, but these efforts have only just begun. Against this backdrop, through international joint research conducted in collaboration with advanced western and other countries as part of this program, the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies aims to become an “FE Network Hub” for acceleration of brain circulation in Asia while addressing the need to conduct integrated and interdisciplinary research that goes beyond the frameworks of natural and social sciences, as indicated by FE.
In its efforts to offer practical solutions for global and regional environmental issues, the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies values interdisciplinary and international perspectives in its research and education, and it possesses the organizational structure, track record, and know-how required to support those efforts. The Graduate School boasts faculty members hailing from a diverse array of fields in natural science, the humanities, and social science. Since its foundation in 2002, it has achieved a series of successful initiatives for international cooperation in research and education, mainly in Asia, through the GSGES Asia Platform for international education and research cooperation, the International Environmental Management Program, which is offered under the Global 30 (G30) project to establish core universities for internationalization, and the International Center for Human Resource Development in Environmental Management, a strategic program for creating centers to foster environmental leaders. With the new Core-to-Core Program “Formulation of the Cooperation Hub for Global Environmental Studies in Indochina Region” having commenced this fiscal year, we are aiming to expand such initiatives. The program is specifically geared to reinforce and expand the International Joint Research Network (hereinafter “FE Network”) with a focus on advanced countries in the West and elsewhere, based on our achievements, know-how, and organizational structure in international interdisciplinary joint research and cooperation in Global Environmental Studies, which we have fostered mainly in Asia up to now. For the sake of feasibility, we will pursue the program by tapping into our international multidisciplinary joint research activities in Global Environmental Studies – core assets that have been painstakingly built up by our faculty members. In more concrete terms, faculty members who have led international joint research will be appointed chief researchers or staff researchers, and young researchers will be sent on long-term secondments to research institutes in joint research partner countries in a bid to consolidate research cooperation.
As the number of FE Networks is expected to grow through the program, we will combine new and existing networks through the FE Hub Creation Committee (chaired by chief researchers), which composed of staff researchers. Under the Committee’s lead, research and education exchange with international institutes for Global Environmental Studies will be accelerated with the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies serving as an Asian hub for the international FE Network (hereinafter “FE Network Hub”), thus paving the way for future brain circulation activities.
◎ Dispatching young researchers for international joint research
Within the framework of the FE Network Hub, young researchers participate in the FE Network under the lead of staff researchers and engage in joint research with their counterparts in the countries they are sent to. Partner research institutes in the FE Network Hub, and their researchers, are leading the world in their respective fields. By dispatching young researchers overseas, we hope to absorb the latest developments in research and technology in those countries while also transmitting abroad knowledge gained through our own achievements. Young researchers on international assignment through the program will be involved in administration of the FE Network and the FE Hub Creation Committee under the supervision of staff researchers, so that they can acquire the knowledge, skills, and personal contact network that they need in order to administer the FE Network. Through this program for overseas visits, young researchers are expected to build up their capabilities in both research and administration for an international network that will make brain circulation a reality.
With the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies serving as a hub, our ultimate goal is to create 10 sustainable FE Networks by making full use of the academic achievements and personal connections that may be gained through international joint research in each area of Global Environmental Studies, namely, Global Environment Monitoring, Environmental Technology Development, and Regional Development and, by leveraging the cultivation of globally competitive young researchers who will become the driving force in due course. More specifically, we will build a solid FE Network by conducting a total 10 international joint research programs to produce academic results and, by sending a total 10 young researchers on long-term assignments to partner international research institutes and dispatching staff researchers at least once during their assignments to each institute. We will also invite those researchers to present the results of their work at least once a year, both within and outside of the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, so that we can increase public recognition of our research institute as the FE Network Hub for Global Environmental Studies.
◎ Evaluation of researchers’ achievements outside of Japan
As the governing body for this program, Kyoto University Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies has a structure with the flexibility to meet the diverse demands of Global Environmental Studies research and education. In order to achieve fusibility and fluidity of interdisciplinary research and make constant efforts to educate individuals who will possess integrated and advanced abilities, the Graduate School has separate organizations for its research, education, and support for research and education; namely, the Hall of Global Environmental Research, School of Global Environmental Studies and Sansai Gakurin (Grove of Universal Learning), respectively.
The Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies has a “fluid teaching staff,” whose members are affiliated with the organization but serve under limited-time transfers of five to 10 years, in principle, from their original affiliations (Graduate School of Human and Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Economics, Graduate School of Engineering, Graduate School of Agriculture, and Institute for Research in Humanities), and a “permanent teaching staff,” whose members hold positions in the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies. Hiring decisions for fluid teaching staff are usually made with the approval of the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies faculty meeting upon recommendation by their original affiliations, but some are also hired externally. Applications for permanent teaching staff positions are, in principle, open to the public.
One of the qualification requirements for those applying for a teaching position reads, “[Successful applicants must] have an interest in research on environmental issues in developing countries and be able to demonstrate outstanding leadership for working cooperatively with local researchers on joint research.” This requirement regarding the ability to work jointly with international researchers is clearly advantageous to applicants with experience in conducting research outside of Japan. Once a position is awarded, the staff member is required to teach the main subjects in English and supervise internship training (required for the Master’s Program in Environmental Management). Somewhere between one-third and a quarter of all students usually undergo internship training at international institutes. Accordingly, supervisors must have the capability to negotiate with international researchers and manage them; thus, experience in conducting research outside of Japan is one clear sign of such capability.
Primarily through its Hanoi Office and Hue Office, the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies has successfully conducted joint research programs in Asia, such as the International Center for Human Resource Development in Environmental Management (FY2008-FY2012), which was financially supported by the Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT), and the Kyoto University Global COE Program Global Center for Education and Research on Human Security Engineering for Asian Megacities (FY2008-FY2012). By further advancing these programs, we are planning to apply any feedback obtained to our research and education programs. Accordingly, research experience outside of Japan will be virtually mandatory for teaching staff.
◎ Young researcher selection policies/criteria
Partner research institutes and their researchers have readily agreed to participate in the international joint research to be conducted through this program. We will send young researchers to partner institutes where they will take part in joint research being conducted by our chief researchers and staff researchers and their counterparts in the countries to which they are assigned.
These young researchers are expected to take on a joint research topic in one of the three fields for this international joint research initiative, namely, Global Environment Monitoring, Environmental Technology Development, or Regional Development, either in collaboration with staff researchers (for young faculty members or postdoctoral researchers) or under their supervision (for Doctoral students).
Once research topics have been decided, the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies will hold a briefing session on the overseas visits program and its international joint research agenda in order to attract prospective young researchers.
Applicants are required to:
1. Develop a clear-cut career plan that looks five to 10 years ahead (conceptual ability)
They are also required to submit a set of application materials describing the items below (hereinafter “selection documents”), complete with supporting documentary evidence:
2. Proposals on research contents that he/she may take over within the framework of a joint research topic of his/her choice (ideational ability)
3. Descriptions of how previous research achievements and expertise, and professional skills that have been gained will be utilized for joint research (research ability)
4. New expertise, professional skills, and personal contact network that are expected to be gained (future potential)
5. Evidence of linguistic abilities and communication skills that are sufficient to enable him/her to conduct joint research and investigation without difficulty (communication ability)
◎ Selection method
Apart from the FE Hub Creation Committee administrative organization, an independent FE Young Researcher for Overseas Visits Screening Committee (hereinafter “Screening Committee”) will be established. The Screening Committee will consist of, in addition to chief researchers, the head of the governing body (Dean of the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies) and three department chairpersons.
The Screening Committee will select applicants after reviewing the abovementioned selection documents and conducting interviews with candidates. The profiles of applying “young researchers” can vary significantly, and may span associate professors, assistant professors, postdoctoral researchers, and doctoral students. Therefore, the level that a successful candidate is expected to reach by the time of his/her international assignment will be set according to his/her post and current position, following discussion by the FE Hub Creation Committee.
Given that this program is intended to “develop outstanding young researchers,” those who have not been selected will be advised on where they need to improve from among 1 through 5 above. They are allowed to reapply for the program so long as they do so within the joint research period.
Based on a preliminary survey conducted by the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies, the following numbers showed interest in the three fields offered under this international joint research initiative:
(A) Global Environment Monitoring: 4 (3 assistant professors and 1 doctoral student);
(B) Environmental Technology Development: 4 (1 associate professor and 3 assistant professors); and
(C) Regional Development: 2 (1 assistant professor and 1 doctoral student).
Once the program has been adopted, we will ask those candidates to prepare and submit their selection documents so that the Screening Committee can commence the selection process.
◎ Support framework for young researcher overseas visits
Under the direction of the FE Hub Creation Committee chaired by chief researchers, staff researchers will carry out preliminary discussions with host institutes on topics such as drafting/planning joint research and overseas visits by young researchers, supervise joint research activities, support research work by young researchers on the program, and maintain research cooperation frameworks through to completion of the projects.
Staff researchers will also take full responsibility for the FE Hub Creation Committee’s communications and administration, as well as the conduct and performance management of international joint research with which they are involved. They will periodically communicate via email and Internet phone with young researchers on the program and joint researchers in host countries. They will also visit young researchers at their host institutes at least once during their assignments in order to hold research progress report meetings and provide advice and guidance on their research.
During the 11 years since its foundation, the Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies has included in the list of required subjects a long-term internship for graduate students in the Master’s and Doctor’s programs, and has dispatched students to conduct joint projects at more than 150 private enterprises, municipalities, groups, research institutes, and other places, both within and outside of Japan. Over the years, an administrative framework has been established for assuming] responsibility for cooperation with host institutes, pre-/post-education, safety management, and strict confidentiality measures, and internship committees have been set up within relevant institutes to handle administrative matters. Specifically, arrangements are in place for signing agreements with host institutes, submitting weekly training logs, holding training report meetings, and announcing implementation reports externally.
In this program, the FE Hub Creation Committee, which is mainly made up of staff researchers, takes over the internship committee’s know-how on the activities listed above and uses same to provide support for young researchers to enable them to efficiently conduct their research activities at their host institutes. Some of the staff researchers on the FE Hub Creation Committee have also served as internship committee members; hence, easy transmission of such expertise is made possible.
◎ Expected results
Young researchers trained through this program are expected to be instrumental in creating an international research network hub that expedites promotion of FE research in Asia and in realizing future brain circulation based on the achievements resulting from such efforts. They will be individuals who meet the requirements for “promoting strengthened research capabilities of the university” (for example, increasing the percentage of internationally co-authored theses) or “developing human resources capable of addressing the demands of globalization” (for example, strengthening teachers’ capabilities for global education) as described in the University Reform Action Plan (2012). Through participation in the program, young researchers are expected to develop their capabilities for both research and administration, which is imperative for future brain circulation.
Specifically, this program is expected to develop individuals who are capable of:
1) Taking the initiative in performing world-class international joint research in the field of Global Environmental Studies and communicating its results
2) Utilizing advanced communication skills to enable management of integrated/interdisciplinary research
3) Contributing to reinforcement of the global education capabilities of the university
To carry out concrete verification of the above, the following indicators will be referred to:
1) Number of published theses that include both young researchers and researchers at host institutes in the lists of co-authors in world-class research presentations/journals
2) Numbers of joint research activities, co-authored theses, and joint presentations in the field of Global Environmental Studies with researchers from different fields
3) Numbers of classes given in English and international training/research activities in which students are involved
In addition to the above, the FE Hub Creation Committee will monitor and verify the results of the program based on the numbers of presentations and attendees at forums, which are to be held at least once a year in order to internally and externally communicate the results of international joint research; numbers of internal report meetings, which are to be held at least once a year, and their attendees; and individual reports on the program’s research achievements.
◎ Outline of the program
Strategic Young Researcher Overseas Visits Program for Accelerating Brain Circulation
Under this program, the “Creation of an International Research Network Hub for Future Earth” program is conducted with a view to promoting learning in Japan by developing outstanding researchers who will serve as the core of international joint research networks. The program assists universities and other research institutes that, in line with their research organizations’ international research strategies, send abroad young researchers who are engaged in world-class international joint research, in order to create opportunities to take on a diverse array of challenges.